Change the world


“At this time, more than any other, we are reminded of the words of Madiba, when he said: ‘It is now in your hands’.”

It was with these powerful words that President Cyril Ramaphosa ended one of his most recent addresses to the nation, after announcing some of the regulations in line with the impending move to alert level 3 of government’s ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As at 28 May 2020, COVID-19 had infected 27 403 South Africans, of which 3 306 are in the Eastern Cape and 17 754 are in the Western Cape. Expert opinion has suggested that we need to brace ourselves for various waves of the novel coronavirus over the next few years.

As the country prepares for alert level 3, which will see some people return to work and educational institutions, President Ramaphosa cautioned that the easing of some lockdown restrictions “does not mean that the threat posed by the coronavirus has passed or that our fight against the disease is over”.

As Nelson Mandela University prepares for the phased return of staff and students to campus, with measures in place towards their health and safety, it is important to heed the President’s caution and remember that it is now in your hands.

Higher Education and Training, Science and Innovation minister, Dr Blade Nzimande, subsequently announced that from Monday, 1 June 2020, institutions would start implementing remote multimodal learning and teaching in line with the department’s “save the academic year, save lives” theme.

This will see a number of identified staff and students – up to a maximum of one third (33%) of the University’s student and staff complement – returning very gradually to campus in the next few weeks.

The principle remains: those who are able to work and study remotely must continue to do so.

Phased return of staff and students to campus

In determining who is required to start physically returning to campus, the University is guided by national regulations, with health and safety guidelines underpinning the readiness plans.

For staff, critical on-site services had been working from campus since alert level 5, with additional categories of staff having started their return from 1 May in line with the alert level 4 restrictions. Under alert level 3, more staff, restricted to a maximum one third, will return, starting with support staff, then academics and finally students.

In line with regulations, line managers will advise HR and staff who these staff members will be, just as students will be identified and contacted personally about when to return.

For students, the physical return to campus seeks to prioritise those on their final year of study, in need of access to laboratories and technical equipment, and nearing graduation.

Kindly remain at home until advised otherwise.

University readiness for the phased return to campus

As we navigate this period, it has become increasingly apparent that our ways of being and doing before the COVID-19 pandemic cannot continue.

As such, we need to operate under a “new normal” and adapt to new ways, where regular health screening, physical distancing, exceptional hygiene practices and appropriate use of personal protective equipment (PPEs) such as facemasks and hand sanitisers are part of our daily lives.

Full details pertaining to the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and the screening process for the university’s seven campuses will be shared in a subsequent Memo.


The afore-mentioned measures will be applicable to those staff and students identified to return, who work and stay at University residences. Similar measures are in place at both on- and off-campus accredited residences.

The reopening of residences will be announced in due course, and those due to return will be notified individually.


While the University has put measures in place in preparation for the gradual return of staff and students to campus, we each need to take personal responsibility for our individual health and wellbeing, and of those around us, as we continue to collectively fight the pandemic.

Useful information about the prevention, surveillance and monitoring of COVID-19 is available on the University’s dedicated coronavirus website.

It is incumbent on each one of us to do all that we can in our respective corners towards ensuring that the virus does not have devastating effects on us and those around us.

Lebogang Hashatse
Coronavirus Task Team

Contact information
Ms Zandile Mbabela
Media Manager
Tel: 0415042777